It’s interesting how stories come to fruition; everything I write has an origin story, and my story in Chesapeake Crimes: Magic is Murder is no exception.
Ironically, “The Snow Globe” began as a Halloween story, believe it or not, rather than the Christmas story it actually turned out to be. The inspiration came to me on a Halloween night–actual Halloween, not gay Halloween–I think in either 2003 or 2004. I was out in the French Quarter by myself for some reason–that reason is lost in the mists of time, but it must have been 2004; Paul wasn’t quite comfortable yet being out and about in crowds just yet, so I wound up spending Decadence and Halloween and pretty much any time I went out back then by myself, meeting up with friends (the real life inspiration for Scotty’s friend David, for you Scotty readers out there). Anyway, this particular Halloween I wore a wrestler’s singlet that I’d borrowed from my friend Not-David. He was smaller than me but back then I was also pretty small; I weighed somewhere between 170 and 180 and wore 30 waist pants; everything I wore was a small (my shirts were mediums) but I’d forgotten how tight singlets actually are; a small male singlet fit me like second skin, and of course, I wasn’t wearing anything underneath (I got a lot of attention that night in the bars). Anyway, I was waiting for my friends and was standing on the balcony of the Pub/Parade, nursing a bottle of Bud Lite and watching the street–seriously, actual Halloween is primarily for locals, everyone wears a costume, and it’s a lot of fun–when someone walked out the door of Oz, across the street, wearing a devil costume.
He had on a mask, had the horns and tail–but all he was wearing was a skimpy red bikini and a lot of red body paints. He was wearing stiletto boots that looked like hooves (except for the stiletto part) and his body was amazing, and I literally thought, Satan has a great six-pack. This made me laugh, and I thought, that’s a great opening for a Halloween story.
I did make a note of the line in a journal, and never forgot it.
Flash forward a decade or so and HWA was doing a Halloween-themed horror anthology, and I thought my Satan has a great six-pack story would work perfectly for it. I worked on it–was also writing a book at the same time–and sadly, never finished it. Flash forward another two years and there was a hilarious thread on Facebook–I do not recall what it was about or how it started, but it eventually devolved into someone suggesting an anthology called War on Christmas in which every story took a kind of Hallmark Christmas movie trope and tweaked into something dark. Someone mentioned a magical snow globe in one of the films, I replied “Oh I want to do the story about Satan’s snow globe!”
And I realized that just changing one letter in Satan turned it into Santa, and I could use that opening sentence yet again. I love when that happens.
Santa, Dylan thought, certainly has a great six-pack.
He smiled as he leaned against the bar, watching the so-called Santa with a slight smile. He definitely wasn’t your average department store Santa, that was for sure.
The guy’s body was thickly–almost impossibly– muscled and perfectly proportioned. His biceps and shoulders were thick, every muscle cord and fiber etched and carved beneath his smooth, tanned skin. The cleavage between his big chest was deep, his nipples like purplish quarters. It didn’t seem possible for his waist to be so small, and the crevices between his abdominal muscles were deep enough for a finger to fit between up to the first knuckle. His legs were powerful and strong, ropy bulging veins pushing against the silky skin.
Like a traditional Santa his face was hidden behind the obligatory long white wig and the thick white beard and mustache—but that was his only bow to tradition. Rather than a red suit with white trim and a big black belt, he simply wore a very small bikini of crushed red velvet with glittery red sequins trimmed around the waist and legs with green faux fur. Large brass rings exposing pale skin connected the front to the back. His red boots sparkled with red sequins and glitter, trimmed at the top with green velvet. Slung over his right shoulder was a red velvet bag, also trimmed with green faux fur. Every movement he made as he talked to a group of young twinks with poufy hair and obscenely slim hips caused muscles to bulge and flex somewhere.
He knew he was staring but didn’t care.
Dylan wasn’t drunk. Well, maybe just a wee bit tipsy. He was nursing his third beer since getting to the party a little after eight, but about an hour ago the bartenders had poured free shots of some sort of tequila about an hour earlier. It had burned and made his eyes water—definitely not the best tequila.
The idea of a cursed snow globe really appealed to me, and since I’d only gotten about two paragraphs into the Halloween story, changing it to Christmas was easy; it actually even made more sense as a Christmas story as opposed to a Halloween story (and, truth be told, I had always hated the title I was using for it as a Halloween story; “The Snow Globe” is a much better title). The War on Christmas anthology chose to not use the story, but the editor gave me incredible feedback–primarily, I had played down the magic/voodoo aspects of the story, which were actually it’s strongest and most interesting point–in all honesty, I was hesitant to use voodoo as a dark force in the story; it’s clichéd, at the very least, and the last thing I wanted to do was add to the confusion of what voodoo actually is–but the ‘curse’ in the story is about vengeance, and every religion has both a light or “good” side and a dark or “bad” side.
Plus, I had always wanted to write about Baron Samedi, and here was a chance.
So, when I got the call for submissions for Magic is Murder, I thought, hey, here’s a place you send “The Snow Globe” too after you revise it per the editor’s notes! Needless to say, I was enormously flattered and pleased when the story was chosen.
I do like the story a lot; it’s always fun to write about snow in New Orleans (yes, it starts snowing in the story) and it was also kind of fun to write about an older gay man for a change; a single guy in his fifties who has started feeling his age and is. well, lonely.
And really, can you ever go wrong with a stripper Santa?
You can order the book here if you like, or you can order it from your local independent (always your best choice, really).